The Authenticity of the Bible

By Dr. Jack Graham

Not only did Jesus testify to the authority of Scripture, but also He testified to its authenticity. Jesus viewed Scripture as being verbally inspired by God. When He read the Old Testament scrolls—whether the Law, the Prophets or the Writings, which includes the Psalms and the wisdom literature such as the book of Proverbs—He read confidently, believing that He was reading the authentic words given by God to man. Matthew 5:18 says, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (NKJV).

The word jot is an English rendering of the Greek word for iota, the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, translated by our English letter “i.” This Greek word was used to approximate the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the yodh, which is similar to our apostrophe (‘). “Tittle” is a translation of Greek keraia (“horn”) and refers to a small stroke of the writing pen used to make an ancient mark, or to complete a serif on the end of a letter. So, Jesus said, not even the smallest mark of the pen will go unnoticed in the fulfillment of the Law. Every word, every letter, every stroke of the pen that records the Word of God matters.

All of Scripture, in other words, was authentically inspired by God.

Was Jesus using hyperbole for effect? Certainly. But it was exaggeration toward a certain point: Everything that God has revealed to humankind is important. None of it is extraneous or unnecessary.

This can be a tough concept for modern people like you and me to swallow because we’re so accustomed to weeding through extraneous and unnecessary information on a moment-by-moment basis. It seems we’re constantly exposed to stuff we don’t really need to know—in newspapers, in magazines, in books we read for pleasure, on billboards we pass as we face our morning commute—and so as we approach the Holy Word of God, we tend to think that surely there must be irrelevant things there, too. Like the rest of what we read in life, we think the Bible is nice, but unnecessary; interesting, but optional; enjoyable, but peripheral to the “real stuff” of life. These assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m so thankful for a pastor who instilled in me early in my Christian life a rock-solid confidence in God’s Word. Year by year, I would learn to trust more and more in the infallibility of the Bible, finding not hidden flaws but hidden wonders and hidden excellencies that further revealed the majesty of God.

When I was in my early thirties, my confidence in God’s Word would be put to the test. At the time, I was the pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, and suddenly I found myself in a meeting with other leaders from my denomination, where the topic of discussion was whether or not the Bible is inerrant. Imagine my surprise: I didn’t know the subject was up for debate!

One by one, the moderator asked us to share our positions on this issue, and I was shocked and saddened as I absorbed opening comments from many of my peers. They had doubts, they said, about the trustworthiness of the Bible. I began to have doubts about them.

It was almost my turn when I felt a surge of anxiety rush through my system. What was I going to say?

When all eyes at last were on me, I decided to keep it simple—and true. “The Bible is the Word of God.” I said, and then repeated: “The Bible is the Word of God.”

All was silent as my words hung in the air, but then the pastor sitting next to me piped up: “You mean the Bible contains the words of God,” he said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. “No, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that the Bible is the Word of God.”

There is a subtle but strong difference between those two beliefs—does the Bible merely contain some of God’s words, or is the Bible the Word of God? In neo-orthodox, existential style of biblical understanding and interpretation, the belief that the Bible contains the words of God centers on the Bible as a vehicle for God’s truth instead of centering on the Bible as God’s truth itself. It focuses on various parts and parcels of the Bible being true, instead of focusing on the entirety of God’s Word as Truth.

But this belief doesn’t square with the apostle Paul’s validation in 2 Timothy 3:16, which says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God…” Every word of God is pure. And every word of God is true. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.